The Eagle Way
I can tell you, that as a kid I saw more than a few things that I never could explain in the mountains and valleys of the reservation around Gallup New Mexico. No one else could explain them either for that matter. So I guess it was experiences like those that kept me open to such things as I became older. And as I became older, I came to be grateful for what I suppose is a gift.
Too few people have appreciation for the spirit world now days. I've been more fortunate than some to live in cultures where spiritual presence was not only recognized but celebrated as well. And maybe what my dad said was true, that I really do have an odd connection with the other side. However, I have heard others say it was a hyperactive imagination. I see and or feel the presence of spirits from the "other side" everywhere I go, always have, I still do. Sometimes it paralyzes me however.
In the high desert, on a cold night, tons of stars poke holes through the cobalt blue and purple sky, and the moon reflecting off the snow lights up the whole valley.
The sandstone mesa I’m on rises out of the reservation prairie. Up here it's cold. The winds blows so loud you can’t hear yourself scream. My camp fire is contained in a hole in the mesa top. The warm orange flames dance quickly to avoid being stepped on by the winds as they howl and stomp around the mesa tops. It seems desolate here. However, it’s the safest place in the universe and a perfect vantage point for me, an eight year old boy. So I wait, watch and listen.
In good weather, it's a one days hike for me over the high dessert in northern New Mexico to reach this mesa from Gallup. Then another two or three hours to climb to the top. I will be gathering sage brush for fire wood and generally goofing off as I ascend the mesa.
The mesa changed into a million colors as I walked to her from town. Every different angle of the sun painted her a bright new shade from the rainbow. That tells me she is happy I’m coming to stay with her and the spirits that live within her. It's cold from the elements but her glowing spirits are warming and inviting.
Late, late at night when the winds finally rest and quiet down, the smoke from the fire becomes lazy and gets caught in the small whirlwinds that form at the top of the mesas. As I’m laying on my sleeping bag staring into the fire and smoke, the stories of the past start to come to life and take shape. Eagle Dancers begin to appear and surround me as they chant and dance around the edge of this mesa top. Hey ya ya ya hey ya hey ya ya I hear it and see it before me as if I was living 3 hundred years ago. The fire throws a glow of red, yellow and orange on to the bodies and feathers of their mighty eagle dancers against the night sky. Their power is great. I feel their dancing stomps vibrating through the mesa and through my bones and into my teeth. The bells around their leggings clang sharply through the winds, cha-chinka cha-chinka cha-chinka... in perfect harmony with “The Beauty Way”. I am witnessing the Earth being pulled back into balance. I feel like part of it.
In a hypnotic state, and like the smoke from the fire I begin to rise towards the sky leaving my body laying on the mesa. My skin glowing orange and glistening like it's covered in oil. Looking down from my suspension the Eagle Dancers are casting shadows, like black dancing spokes turning on the glowing surface of the mesa, and stretching off the edge and out into space.
These experiences are gifts from the spirit world to help me face rites of passages that are coming. As I come out of my deep warm sleep I smell of sage brush from the fire that has burned all night mixed with the smell of bacon that I cooked for supper. But I also smell of other plants and herbs that I know I did not burn or pick or bring with me. I taste them. And feel them penetrating my skin, when the morning sun heats my torso. Standing, naked, extending my arms out to the side receiving what Mother Earth and Father Sun want me to feel. I feel "The Beauty Way".
Pulling my clothes out from under my sleeping bag I began to roll it up. As I tie it off to my backpack I notice a large white tail feather floats to the ground. I look up and see an eagle circling overhead. I feel him staring at me. He’ll be with me all the way home today. Today I will be "The Eagle Way"
Some mesa tops have been sacred for hundreds of years. Today one can visit the spirits of the elders if you humbly open your heart. You will be a changed person if you’re willing to camp out on the mesa and watch silently while the smoke dances when the wind gets quiet. Listen to mother earth and believe what she wants you to see.
The gifts of
“The Beauty Way”.
I have beauty to the east,
I have beauty to the west,
I have beauty to the north,
I have beauty to the south,
I have beauty above me,
I have beauty below me.
I have the beauty way. Today I need to be like an eagle, Today I will be “the eagle way.” -
A Navajo prayer, usually said first thing in the morning.-
My heritage is French, Irish, Bohemian, English and mostly American Indian, from the Eastern Cherokee Nation. My great great great Grandmother, walked the Trail Of Tears to Oklahoma. I was born on the Navajo reservation outside of Gallup New Mexico. In the 13th county of the state (McKinley) on the intersection of what was once US66 and State Highway 666.
My Dad and Mom were on the Navajo reservation when mother's labor started. We never made to the hospital, and state highway patrolman helped deliver me in the back of my dad's car at that intersection 66 and 666 on the way to Gallup.